As a number of counties across South Carolina are placing various projects on the fast track thanks to federal stimulus dollars coming into the state. The smallest county in the state, McCormick County, is scrambling to get a modest share of stimulus cash to make its decades old two story courthouse more energy efficient.
County Administrator Bruce Cooley says the building is in need of new windows, However the energy efficiency grant coming through the South Carolina Department of Energy specifies that such projects can’t be for windows only so the county has decided to include air condition units as well, but Cooley says he is not optimistic about obtaining the grant.”The requirements are so stringent. You’ve got to have a 2.5 return on investment and to be honest with you, talking to my building official, I don’t see how anybody in America can have a 2.5 return on investment on a project.”
Cooley says the Sheriff’s Department has received a $13,000 grant to be used for various purposes and is hopeful of obtaining more to improve its rolling stock. “They applied for that themselves, and it was one of those that pretty much was a guaranteed set amount they were going to get. They’ve also applied for some police cruisers I understand. I don’t think they’ve heard back from that one yet.”
Located in the western part of the state on the Georgia border, the southern end of McCormick County stretches near the growing metropolitan area of Augusta, GA. Cooley says unfortunately the county is not getting any spill over from the growing population because the infrastructure needed is simply not there, and there is currently no shovel ready projects in place in order to obtain stimulus money to complete.
“The only reason I can figure we’re not growing in the southern part of the county, because Aiken and North Augusta are catching some of the spillover is we don’t have infrastructure in place down there to support the businesses coming over.”
Cooley says on the Aiken County side you can see the hustle and bustle of growth, while on the southern McCormick County side its like a trip into the 1800s with acres of only woods.
Cooley says a literal pipe dream he has for the county is to connect Greenwood County’s public works water line with McCormick County’s water and sewer water line. “It would provide water for the people of Bradley and that area of lower Greenwood County. It would also open up some nice large industrial tracks for possible industrial development but unfortunately as I understand, number one the projects have to be shovel ready, and second of all it has to be shown it can create jobs.
Cooley says the only job connecting the two water lines would create would be for the people putting the pipe in the ground.
Cooley says for now McCormick will settle for the distinction of being by far the smallest county in the state.”As of the 2000 census we have just over 10,000 residents in the entire county, and that’s including about 1,500 in our gated community known as McCormick Correctional Institute. However, they don’t pay any taxes.”